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Adam Ondra

Published on 18 September 2012 in People

18We were in Madagascar, during one of our rare days of rest, and Adam had already climbed Tough Enough. While rested doing nothing at all Adam was doing pull-ups on a raft in the roof of our hut.We were discussing bone marrow and I could see he was curious to know more about the topic. “You take a simple blood test and then you are registered in the world wide potential bone marrow donor data-base and you then remain available until you become 55 years old, for anybody who may need a bone marrow transplant compatible with yours. The possibility of the donation actually taking place are very very low because compatibilities are rare, but at least your are there, ready for anybody who might need your help regardless of who or where he is in the world.

Adam was gazing at me, with his one thousand billion neurons that sometimes seem to be elsewhere but actually are always there, focused on the discussion.

“And what happens when a compatible donor is found?”

“Well, you’d be a lucky man! You’d know you were saving somebody’s life. Some bone marrow is grafted from your hip bone, employing either local or total anesthesia. In 40% of cases instead, a peripheral blood graft is sufficient, taken from the veins of the arm. What is taken from the donor is reformed within 10 days.”

“Uhm, it sounds easy. And why did you decide to do it?”

“Eh…I am a climber within, Adam, and for many years I have been at the centre of my own dreams. Climbing gave me, and still does gives me a wonderful life. Often, this situation made me live as an individualist but there comes a time when you want to make also other people, dream. I am here in Madagascar and I enjoy being a belayer for you and not only because you are Adam Ondra. Well, being a bone marrow donor is a bit like stopping the rope for somebody who is about to fall, and maybe you’re the only one capable of doing this…”

Adam looks at me, and as if to apologize says: “ But I am totally focused on my life as a climber…” “And rightly so! You are 17 years old and you climb the way you climb! Thankgoodness you are concentrated! But it i also becasue of this that one becomes a donor, because at times, we climbers, and these days not only us, forget that outside of our personal dimension there is the whole world, there are other people. You see, becoming a bone marrow donor is like taking a homeopathic pill against your individualism, a natural medicine that gives us a social conscience.”

Adam gazes into nothingness and only he may know what his 1000 billion neurons are working on. But I know that these few words will not be lost in trails of thought. I am aware that Adam is not a superficial person and is not one of those people who, for laziness or something else, bury their heads like the ostrich.

A few months go by and no more is said on the matter. The 5th of February also goes by and the young Czech comes of age. Between two climbing trips to Spain, where he climbs one line after the other, I receive a phone call: “Hello, this is Adam, I just wanted to tell you that I became a bone marrow donor.”

While climbing, I got used to being amazed by Adam but this news really hit me and I was deeply touched.

And now some thoughts by Adam himself.


Pietro dal Prà


When looking back at my previous life, I feel like my parents and also my friends have been ruled by my needs, I was enormously lucky that they have been often compliant to sacrifice for myself, sometimes belaying myself in freezing conditions, driving the whole night in order to let me climb the next day. In order to fulfil my dreams, so much effort just for me though I often do not realize this at all and take it all as way too obvious thing. But when thinking about it I feel like owe a lot to other people. I could never imagine living better life than now I do, but I am wondering, do I really deserve it? Well, I can work on myself hard and not to lose my target out of grasp, but I have had always had the best conditons and the best support.

Not everyone has such luck as myself, not everyone is “merely“ lucky enough to be healthy as most of the others and just go climbing, enjoy every day without any serious helathy problems at least while being young. To become a potential marrow bone donnor was quite an obvious choice for me, there are people on the world who might need me to save their lives, I asked myself if it was worth of sacrificing one week of life (if there will ever be person for whom I would be useful) for way longer and happier life of another person. Yes, the operation might be awkward, might hurt, it would avoid me to live my ordinary life for at least 1 week, but for me, it is definitely worth of it, what about you?

Adam Ondra

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